What is gout? Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a substance in the blood that is produced by the breakdown of waste products called purines. If excessive uric acid is produced by the body or if uric acid is not eliminated effectively by the kidneys, it can form deposits of crystals in the joints. Uric acid crystals can cause intense and sudden inflammation, pain, redness, stiffness and burning in and around joints that can persist for several weeks. Gout often starts in one of the big toes, but it can also affect the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, heels, and other joint areas. Gout is most commonly seen in men older than age 40, but it can strike anyone, especially postmenopausal women. Pacific Islanders are far more susceptible to gout compared to other ethnic groups. Gout is not curable, but it can be successfully managed with medical therapy and lifestyle changes. Its symptoms resemble those of several other diseases, disorders and conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis and pseudogout. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of gout can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications, such as disability. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of gout, such as pain, redness, burning or swelling of a joint. A serious complication of gout is kidney stones. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have symptoms of a kidney stone, such as severe flank or abdominal pain, which may occur with bloody urine, reduced urination, or the inability to urinate.